Travel firms are seeking reservation systems that cut out middle men and offer improved call centre efficiency, according to systems developer Open Destinations.
The London-based technology specialist says that it is also seeing the continued influence of channel managers in hotel room distribution.
Kevin O’Sullivan, chief executive, said it was vital that retailers have feeds of those special dynamic rates suppliers offer through channel managers.
“If you do not have those feeds you are not competitive in the marketplace. There is a lot of movement around that supply chain to bring in that technology.
“Channel managers are growing as well as yield management systems for hotels.”
O’Sullivan said this is a particularly growing trend in the Middle East and Asia, where markets are buoyant and there are rapidly growing middles classes.
“That’s where the opportunity is, Europe is a much more mature market,” he said. “OTAs in Europe are consolidating because the cost of reaching the customer is getting higher and higher.
“People cannot afford to do it and the margins are just not there. I would hate to be a small OTA at the moment trying to compete with Booking.com and Expedia.”
Open Destinations says it is in discussions with prospective customers about switching systems as they look for more functionality.
“There are lots of serious discussions with companies that want to make a decision over the next three months.
“People looking to come to us are moving from lower functionality systems and they want to enhance their web offering and connectivity through channel manager and other suppliers.”
O’Sullivan added customers are looking for a slicker way of working. “Call centres have been interesting. A lot of people want something that improves efficiency of their call centres.
“They want to move away from their agents having to keep flicking through different trade supplier websites to see if product is available.
“They want that integrated into one screen. There are lots of solution providers that don’t have that integration.”
Open Destinations most recent client win is luxury travel company Belmond, formerly known as Orient Express.
O’Sullivan said that firms with a specialisation in a particular travel sector like luxury, family or disabled travel do have opportunities to establish themselves.
He added that direct connections with suppliers were also becoming more in demand, as firms look to keep more of the margin for themselves.
“That’s very small today, but in 10 years time the role of the bed banks will be in question. Everyone realises that the way to make money is to moss out as many parts of the chain as you can.
“It’s all about availability and price. With travel management software hotels change their rates so often unless you have the best rates available customers will shop in other channels.
“That’s where the large OTAs have led the way. They have systems in place to force hotels to give them the best rates so they can pass these on to the consumer.”